This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
The late Dr. John Torrey, the distin-guised scientist, is said to have first acquired a taste for scientific pursuits in the following remarkable manner: - His father held some official station which required him to visit the prisons of the city of New York, and the lad frequently accompanied the parent on these tours of inspection. In the old State Prison, which at that early day was somewhere about Twenty-third street,and situated in the country, they found a man in the office of the superintendent who had been condemned to serve out a short term, but was generally believed to have been innocent of any offence. This prisoner was taken into the office to keep the books. He was a man of learning, and especially a fine botanist. Whenever young Torrey appeared at the prison the bookkeeper would point out from the window some plants growing in the vacant lots opposite, and ask the boy to go and fetch them; the two then sat down in the office to analyze and dissect the specimens, presenting the curious spectacle of a prisoner in convict's costume teaching a well dressed boy.
The lad never forgot the lessons, and from the taste thus acquired dates his application to the study of botany, in which science he was destined to achieve the most distinguished success.